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Enjoy a flurry of song and dance

Tamara Flanders doesn't dance at weddings. You won't catch her getting down at a nightclub.

But she can't help but join in the fun at the annual dance and music Flurry Festival in Saratoga every year.

There's just a wonderful energy there, she said. "You've got 5,000 people and everyone is so nice."

Flanders will make her annual trip to the dance floor this weekend, when the Flurry Festival is held throughout Saratoga Springs. Participants can take part in square dances, contra dances, swing dances, folk dances and all other kinds of dances. Music is also an important element of the weekend, with Irish, African, gospel and folk songs among the offerings. Workshops, jam sessions, chats and concerts round out the weekend.

"It's like the ultimate buffet of music and dance," Flanders, who handles marketing for the festival, said. "There's really something for everyone."

More than 400 performers and instructors will be at the Flurry's six festival venues, kicking off Friday night with a waltz, a beginner's contra dance workshop and welcome contra and swing dances, all at 7 p.m. Flanders stressed that people don't have to be experienced dancers to take part " or have fun.

"You don't need to know how to dance," she said. "You don't need to know right from left."

The festival breaks the offerings down into four levels of experience: beginner (for instance, Cajun Dance 101), secondary (Changing Contra Choreography), experienced (Scottish Ball) and mixed (Honky Tonk Dance Hall). Some events are geared to families and others to teens; there are several programs on Saturday for young children, including "Action Songs and Stories" for ages 5 to 12 from 1:10 to 2 p.m.

Flanders got involved in the Flurry scene when her own daughter was younger. The Dance Flurry organization holds dances throughout the Capital District all year, and Flanders' daughter wanted to go to one a few years ago. So, even though Flanders wasn't much for dancing, she went, and the two had a ton of fun.

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